Get Out of the Kitchen

Christ in the House of Martha and Mary by Diego Vélazquez

Life as of late has reached a whole new level of busy, and with all my might I strive to relish every bit of it. Two months ago, I started a new job at a Catholic high school and getting acclimated to it + wedding planning/marriage preparation + my other regular obligations succinctly summarize why life has been crazy. Juggling retreat planning, meetings, and actually trying to do relational ministry with high school students while planning a wedding is the transitional challenge I accepted without hesitation and continue to welcome with open arms. I’m still very new and I have a ton to learn, still. I do know that things on my multiple to-do lists will get done–I’m certain they will–just not as swiftly as I’m used to. And quite honestly, that really bugs me.

Yesterday morning, I met with a team of students who will be leading a retreat next month (our fifth one already since the start of the school year). Before we began crossing off items on our agenda for discussion, I first read aloud the Gospel of the day and we spent the following minutes in prayerful reflection and discussion. It was Luke 10:38-42. You know…Martha and Mary.

After spending moments reflecting on those verses in Luke, I shared with the students how every piece of retreat planning we do together or drafts we write for talks need to be rooted in prayer first and foremost. It is in prayer when we communicate our gratitude, praise, adoration, and petitions to our Father. It is in prayer when we can hear the Lord speak to us. Through prayer we are enabled to faithfully lead a retreat that is truly guided by the Holy Spirit. Our foundation is our personal relationship with God, who is the source of all goodness.

Almost immediately after those moments of reflection, I stepped back and realized the same thing for myself. I questioned myself silently on the time I spend with the Lord. How much good, quality time am I actually spending amid the busyness of my life? While I make an effort to go to daily Mass and say my routine prayers, how is the quality of that time spent with the Lord? Am I only half present? Wholly present? Does my mind wander and think back at my tasks and not focus on being all there?

In many ways I feel like Martha in the Gospel. Because I’m the go-getter. I’m the doer. These experiences clearly reveal to me my “type a” personality showing dominance and a lack of balance. This isn’t how it works. (Take a bite out of that humble pie, Fatima.)

When God makes Himself available to be with you, you welcome Him into your home, as you would for any guest. This is what Martha did. However, Mary came through and spent quality time with Him while He was there. She was present at Jesus’ feet. On the other hand, Martha was in the kitchen, anxious to get things done and frustrated that she was left to do everything. She eventually voiced this concern to Jesus. His response? “Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her.”

Many times I’ve welcomed the Lord, but didn’t spend that quality time with Him. I’ve stayed in the kitchen.  I find it difficult to stop everything and to be present. I find it difficult to step away from the desk when things need to get done so that I can instead be present to students. This is my challenge: stepping away from the busyness to just be present to Jesus. Things will get done, yes (and not always when I want it done but I’ll get over it). But the first priority, here, is waiting in the other room.

I need to get out of the kitchen.
I need to choose the better part.

God challenges all of us to be present to Him. After all, He constantly puts Himself out there for each of us every single day. Even if you have challenges different from my own, the question remains the same:

Are you in the kitchen or not?

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